PC games, also known as computer games or personal computer games, are
video games played on a personal computer rather than a dedicated
video game console or arcade machine. Their defining characteristics
include a more diverse and user determined gaming hardware and
software, and a generally greater capacity in input, processing, and
Home computer games became popular following the video game crash of
1983 leading to the era of the "bedroom coder". In the 1990s, PC games
lost mass-market traction to console games before enjoying a
resurgence in the mid-2000s through digital distribution.
Newzoo reports that the PC gaming sector is the third largest (and
estimated in decline), with the consoles second largest, and mobile,
even smartphone gaming sector alone biggest, and across all platforms
as of 2016, 2.2 billion gamers generate US$101.1 billion in revenue
(i.e. all numbers exclude hardware costs), and "Digital game revenues
will account for $94.4 billion or 87% of the global market. Mobile is
the most lucrative segment, with smartphone and tablet gaming growing
19% year on year to $46.1 billion, claiming 42% of the market. In
2020, mobile gaming will represent just more than half of the total
games market. ... China expected to generate $27.5 billion, or
one-quarter of all revenues in 2017." PC is considered
synonymous (by them and others) with
IBM PC compatible systems; while
mobile computers – smartphones and tablets, such as those
running Android or iOS – are also personal computers in the
general sense. The "APAC" region is estimated to generate $46.6
billion in 2016, or 47% of total global game revenues (note, not only
"PC" games). China alone accounts for half of APAC's revenues,
reaching $24.4 billion, cementing its place as the largest games
market in the world, ahead of the US's anticipated market size of
$23.5 billion. China is expected to have 53% of revenues from mobile
in 2017 (46% in 2016).
The uncoordinated nature of the
PC game market and its lack of
physical media make precisely assessing its size difficult.
1.1 Early growth
1.2 Industry crash and aftermath
1.3 Growth of
IBM PC gaming
1.4 Contemporary gaming
2 Platform characteristics
2.3 Dominant software
Digital distribution services
3 PC gaming technology
Local area network
Local area network gaming
3.3.2 Online games
5 Computer games museums
6 See also
8 External links
Main article: History of video games
Spacewar!, developed for the
PDP-1 in 1961, is often credited as being
the second ever computer game. The game consisted of two
player-controlled spaceships maneuvering around a central star, each
attempting to destroy the other.
Although personal computers only became popular with the development
of the microprocessor and microcomputer, computer gaming on mainframes
and minicomputers had previously already existed. OXO, an adaptation
of tic-tac-toe for the EDSAC, debuted in 1952. Another pioneer
computer game was developed in 1961, when MIT students Martin Graetz
and Alan Kotok, with MIT student Steve Russell, developed
PDP-1 mainframe computer used for statistical calculations.
The first generation of computer games were often text adventures or
interactive fiction, in which the player communicated with the
computer by entering commands through a keyboard. An early
text-adventure, Adventure, was developed for the
by Will Crowther in 1976, and expanded by Don Woods in 1977. By the
1980s, personal computers had become powerful enough to run games like
Adventure, but by this time, graphics were beginning to become an
important factor in games. Later games combined textual commands with
basic graphics, as seen in the SSI
Gold Box games such as Pool of
Radiance, or Bard's Tale for example.
By the late 1970s to early 1980s, games were developed and distributed
through hobbyist groups and gaming magazines, such as Creative
Computing and later Computer Gaming World. These publications provided
game code that could be typed into a computer and played, encouraging
readers to submit their own software to competitions. Players could
BASIC source code of even commercial games. Microchess
was one of the first games for microcomputers which was sold to the
public. First sold in 1977,
Microchess eventually sold over 50,000
copies on cassette tape.
As with second-generation video game consoles at the time, early home
computer game companies capitalized on successful arcade games at the
time with ports or clones of popular arcade games. By 1982, the
top-selling games for the
Atari 400 were ports of
Centipede, while the top-selling game for the Texas Instruments
TI-99/4A was the
Space Invaders clone TI Invaders. That same year,
Pac-Man was ported to the
Atari 800, while
Donkey Kong was
licensed for the Coleco Adam. In late 1981,
Atari attempted to
take legal action against unauthorized clones, particularly Pac-Man
clones, despite some of these predating Atari's exclusive rights to
the home versions of Namco's game.
Industry crash and aftermath
Video game crash of 1983
As the video game market became flooded with poor-quality cartridge
games created by numerous companies attempting to enter the market,
and overproduction of high-profile releases such as the
Pac-Man and E.T. grossly underperformed, the popularity
of personal computers for education rose dramatically. In 1983,
consumer interest in console video games dwindled to historical lows,
as interest in games on personal computers rose. The effects of
the crash were largely limited to the console market, as established
companies such as
Atari posted record losses over subsequent years.
Conversely, the home computer market boomed, as sales of low-cost
color computers such as the
Commodore 64 rose to record highs and
developers such as
Electronic Arts benefited from increasing interest
in the platform.
To enhance the immersive experience with their unrealistic graphics
and electronic sound, early PC games included extras such as the
peril-sensitive sunglasses that shipped with The Hitchhiker's Guide to
the Galaxy or the science fiction novella included with Elite. These
extras gradually became less common, but many games were still sold in
the traditional oversized boxes that used to hold the extra "feelies".
Today, such extras are usually found only in
Special Edition versions
of games, such as Battlechests from Blizzard.
The North American console market experienced a resurgence in the
United States with the release of the
Nintendo Entertainment System
(NES). In Europe, computer gaming continued to boom for many years
after. Computers such as the
ZX Spectrum and
BBC Micro were
successful in the European market, where the NES was not as successful
despite its monopoly in Japan and North America. The only 8-bit
console to have any success in Europe would be the
System. Meanwhile, in Japan, both consoles and computers became
major industries, with the console market dominated by
the computer market dominated by NEC's PC-88 (1981) and PC-98 (1982).
A key difference between Western and Japanese computers at the time
was the display resolution, with Japanese systems using a higher
resolution of 640x400 to accommodate Japanese text which in turn
affected video game design and allowed more detailed graphics.
Japanese computers were also using Yamaha's FM synth sound boards from
the early 1980s.
During the 16-bit era, the
Commodore Amiga and
Atari ST became popular
in Europe, while the PC-98, Sharp
FM Towns became popular
in Japan. The Amiga,
FM Towns were capable of producing
near arcade-quality hardware sprite graphics and sound quality when
they first released in the mid-to-late 1980s.
IBM PC gaming
Among launch titles for the
IBM Personal Computer
IBM Personal Computer (PC) in 1981 was
Microsoft Adventure, which IBM described as bringing "players into a
fantasy world of caves and treasures".
BYTE that year stated that
the computer's speed and sophistication made it "an excellent gaming
device", and IBM and others sold games like Microsoft Flight
Simulator. The PC's
CGA graphics and speaker sound were poor, however,
and most customers bought the powerful but expensive computer for
InfoWorld in 1984 reported that "in offices
all over America (more than anyone realizes) executives and managers
are playing games on their computers", software companies found
selling games for the PC difficult; an observer said that year that
Flight Simulator had sold hundreds of thousands of copies because
customers with corporate PCs could claim that it was a
From mid-1985, however, what Compute! described as a "wave" of
IBM PC clones from American and Asian companies, such as
the Tandy 1000, caused prices to decline; by the end of 1986, the
equivalent to a $1600 real
IBM PC with 256K RAM and two disk drives
cost as little as $600, lower than the price of the Apple IIc.
Consumers began purchasing
DOS computers for the home in large
numbers. While often purchased to do work in evenings and weekends,
clones' popularity caused consumer-software companies to increase the
number of IBM-compatible products, including those developed
specifically for the PC as opposed to porting from other computers.
Bing Gordon of
Electronic Arts reported that customers used computers
for games more than one fifth of the time whether purchased for work
or a hobby, with many who purchased computers for other reasons
finding PC games "a pretty satisfying experience".
By 1987, the PC market was growing so quickly that the formerly
business-only computer had become the largest and fastest-growing, and
most important platform for computer game companies.
dominated the home, supplanting Commodore and Apple. More than a third
of games sold in North America were for the PC, twice as many as those
for the Apple II and even outselling those for the Commodore 64.
With the EGA video card, an inexpensive clone had better graphics and
more memory for games than the Commodore or Apple, and the
Tandy 1000's enhanced graphics, sound, and built-in joystick ports
made it the best platform for IBM PC-compatible games before the VGA
By 1988, the enormous popularity of the
Nintendo Entertainment System
had greatly affected the computer-game industry. A
claimed that "Nintendo's success has destroyed the [computer] software
entertainment market". A
Mindscape executive agreed, saying that
"Unfortunately, its effect has been extremely negative. Without
question, Nintendo's success has eroded software sales. There's been a
much greater falling off of disk sales than anyone anticipated." A
third attributed the end of growth in sales of the
Commodore 64 to the
Trip Hawkins called
Nintendo "the last hurrah of the
8-bit world". Experts were unsure whether it affected 16-bit computer
games, but Hawkins in 1990 nonetheless had to deny rumors that
Electronic Arts would withdraw from computers and only produce console
games. By 1993
ASCII Entertainment reported at a Software
Publishing Association conference that the market for console games
($5.9 billion in revenue) was 12 times that of the computer-game
market ($430 million).
Computer games, however, did not disappear. By 1989 Computer Gaming
World reported that "the industry is moving toward heavy use of VGA
graphics". While some games were advertised with VGA support at
the start of the year, they usually supported EGA graphics through VGA
cards. By the end of 1989, however, most publishers moved to at
supporting at least 320x200 MCGA, a subset of VGA. VGA gave the PC
graphics that outmatched the Amiga. Increasing adoption of the
computer mouse, driven partially by the success of adventure games
such as the highly successful
King's Quest series, and high resolution
bitmap displays allowed the industry to include increasingly
high-quality graphical interfaces in new releases.
Further improvements to game artwork and audio were made possible with
the introduction of
FM synthesis sound.
Yamaha began manufacturing FM
synth boards for computers in the early-mid-1980s, and by 1985, the
FM-7 computers had built-in FM sound. The first PC sound
cards, such as AdLib's Music Synthesizer Card, soon appeared in 1987.
These cards allowed
IBM PC compatible computers to produce complex
sounds using FM synthesis, where they had previously been limited to
simple tones and beeps. However, the rise of the
Creative Labs Sound
Blaster card, released in 1989, which featured much higher sound
quality due to the inclusion of a PCM channel and digital signal
AdLib to file for bankruptcy by 1992. Also in 1989, the
FM Towns computer included built-in PCM sound, in addition to a CD-ROM
24-bit color graphics.
DOS was 65% of the computer-game market, with the Amiga at
10%; all other computers, including the Apple Macintosh, were below
10% and declining. Although both Apple and IBM tried to avoid
customers associating their products with "game machines", the latter
acknowledged that VGA, audio, and joystick options for its PS/1
computer were popular. In 1991, id Software produced an early
first-person shooter, Hovertank 3D, which was the company's first in
their line of highly influential games in the genre. There were also
several other companies that produced early first-person shooters,
such as Arsys Software's Star Cruiser, which featured fully 3D
polygonal graphics in 1988, and Accolade's
Day of the Viper
Day of the Viper in
Id Software went on to develop
Wolfenstein 3D in 1992, which
helped to popularize the genre, kick-starting a genre that would
become one of the highest-selling in modern times. The game was
originally distributed through the shareware distribution model,
allowing players to try a limited part of the game for free but
requiring payment to play the rest, and represented one of the first
uses of texture mapping graphics in a popular game, along with Ultima
In December 1992,
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World reported that
for 82% of computer-game sales in 1991, compared to Macintosh's 8% and
Amiga's 5%. In response to a reader's challenge to find a
that played better than the Amiga version the magazine cited Wing
Commander and Civilization, and added that "The heavy MS-
in CGW merely reflects the realities of the market". A
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World survey in April 1993 similarly
found that 91% of readers primarily used IBM PCs and compatibles for
gaming, compared to 6% for Amiga, 3% for Macintosh, and 1% for Atari
ST, while a
Software Publishing Association study found that 74%
of personal computers were IBMs or compatible, 10% Macintosh, 7% Apple
II, and 8% other. 51% of IBM or compatible had 386 or faster CPUs.
DOS games such as
Links 386 Pro supported Super VGA
graphics. While leading
Nintendo console systems kept
their CPU speed at 3–7 MHz, the 486 PC processor ran much
faster, allowing it to perform many more calculations per second. The
1993 release of Doom on the PC was a breakthrough in 3D graphics, and
was soon ported to various game consoles in a general shift toward
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World reiterated in 1994, "we
have to advise readers who want a machine that will play most of the
games to purchase high-end MS-
By spring 1994 an estimated 24 million US homes (27% of households)
had a personal computer. 48% played games on their computer; 40% had
the 486 CPU or higher; 35% had CD-ROM drives; and 20% had a sound
card. Another survey found that an estimated 2.46 million
multimedia computers had internal CD-ROM drives by the end of 1993, an
increase of almost 2,000%.
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World reported in April
1994 that some software publishers planned to only distribute on CD as
of 1995. CD-ROM had much larger storage capacity than floppies,
helped reduce software piracy, and was less expensive to produce.
Chris Crawford warned that it was "a data-intensive technology, not a
process-intensive one", tempting developers to emphasize the quantity
of digital assets like art and music over the quality of gameplay;
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World wrote in 1993 that "publishers may be losing
their focus". While many companies used the additional storage to
release poor-quality shovelware collections of older software, or
"enhanced" versions of existing ones—often with what the
magazine mocked as "amateur acting" in the added audio and
video—new games such as
Myst included many more assets for a
richer game experience.
Many companies sold "multimedia upgrade kits" that bundled CD drives,
sound cards, and software during the mid-1990s, but device drivers for
the new peripherals further depleted scarce RAM. By 1993, PC games
required much more memory than other software, often consuming all of
conventional memory, while device drivers could go into upper memory
DOS memory managers. Players found modifying
AUTOEXEC.BAT files for memory management cumbersome and confusing, and
each game needed a different configuration. (The game Les Manley 2
satirizes this by depicting two beautiful women exhaust the hero in
bed, by requesting that he again explain the difference between
extended and expanded memory.)
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World provided
technical assistance to its writers to help install games for
review, and published sample configuration files. The magazine
advised non-technical gamers to purchase commercial memory managers
QEMM and 386MAX and criticized nonstandard software like
Origin Systems's "infamous late and unlamented Voodoo Memory
Manager", which used unreal mode.
By 1996, the growing popularity of
Microsoft Windows simplified device
driver and memory management. The success of 3D console titles such as
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 and Tomb Raider increased interest in hardware
accelerated 3D graphics on PCs, and soon resulted in attempts to
produce affordable solutions with the ATI Rage, Matrox Mystique, S3
ViRGE, and Rendition Vérité. As 3D graphics libraries such as
OpenGL matured and knocked proprietary interfaces out of
the market, these platforms gained greater acceptance in the market,
particularly with their demonstrated benefits in games such as
Unreal. However, major changes to the
Microsoft Windows operating
system, by then the market leader, made many older DOS-based games
unplayable on Windows NT, and later,
Windows XP (without using an
emulator, such as DOSbox).
The faster graphics accelerators and improving CPU technology resulted
in increasing levels of realism in computer games. During this time,
the improvements introduced with products such as ATI's Radeon R300
GeForce 6 Series
GeForce 6 Series have allowed developers to increase the
complexity of modern game engines. PC gaming currently tends strongly
toward improvements in 3D graphics.
Unlike the generally accepted push for improved graphical performance,
the use of physics engines in computer games has become a matter of
debate since announcement and 2005 release of the nVidia
ostensibly competing with middleware such as the Havok physics engine.
Issues such as difficulty in ensuring consistent experiences for all
players, and the uncertain benefit of first generation
in games such as
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and City
of Villains, prompted arguments over the value of such
Similarly, many game publishers began to experiment with new forms of
marketing. Chief among these alternative strategies is episodic
gaming, an adaptation of the older concept of expansion packs, in
which game content is provided in smaller quantities but for a
proportionally lower price. Titles such as Half-Life 2: Episode One
took advantage of the idea, with mixed results rising from concerns
for the amount of content provided for the price.
In high-end PC gaming, a PC will generally have far more processing
resources at its disposal than other gaming systems. Game
developers can use this to improve the visual fidelity of their game
relative to other platforms, but even if they do not, games running on
PC are likely to benefit from higher screen resolution, higher
framerate, and anti-aliasing. Increased draw distance is also
common in open world games.
Better hardware also increases the potential fidelity of a PC game's
rules and simulation. PC games often support more players or NPCs than
equivalents on other platforms and game designs which depend on
the simulation of large numbers of tokens (e.g. Guild Wars 2, World of
Warcraft) are rarely seen anywhere else.
The PC also supports greater input fidelity thanks to its
compatibility with a wide array of peripherals. The
most common forms of input are the mouse/keyboard combination and
gamepads, though touchscreens and motion controllers are also
available. The mouse in particular lends players of first-person
shooter and real-time strategy games on PC great speed and
The defining characteristic of the PC platform is the absence of
centralized control; all other gaming platforms (except Android
devices, to an extent) are owned and administered by a single group.
The advantages of openness include:
Reduced software cost
Prices are kept down by competition and the absence of platform-holder
fees. Games and services are cheaper at every level, and many are
PC games decades old can be played on modern systems, through
emulation software if need be. Conversely, newer games can often
be run on older systems by reducing the games' fidelity and/or scale.
One does not need to ask for permission to release or update a PC game
or to modify an existing one, and the platform's hardware and software
are constantly evolving. These factors make PC the centre of both
hardware and software innovation. By comparison, closed platforms tend
to remain much the same throughout their lifespan.
But there are also disadvantages, including:
A PC is a general-purpose tool. Its inner workings are exposed to the
owner, and misconfiguration can create enormous problems. Hardware
compatibility issues are also possible. Game development is
complicated by the wide variety of hardware configurations; developers
may be forced to limit their design to run with sub-optimum PC
hardware in order to reach a larger PC market, or add a range
graphical and other settings to adjust for playability on individual
machines, requiring increased development, test, and customer support
Increased hardware cost
PC components are generally sold individually for profit (even if one
buys a pre-built machine), whereas the hardware of closed platforms is
mass-produced as a single unit and often sold at a smaller profit, or
even a loss (with the intention of making profit instead in online
service fees and developer kit profits).
It is difficult, and in most situations ultimately impossible, to
control the way in which PC hardware and software is used. This leads
to far more software piracy and cheating than closed platforms suffer
Main article: Mod (video gaming)
The openness of the PC platform allows players to edit their games and
distribute the results over the
Internet as "mods". A healthy mod
community greatly increases a game's longevity and the most popular
mods have driven purchases of their parent game to record heights.
It is common for professional developers to release the tools they use
to create their games (and sometimes even source code) in
order to encourage modding, but if a game is popular enough mods
generally arise even without official support.
Mods can compete with official downloadable content however, or even
outright redistribute it, and their ability to extend the lifespan of
a game can work against its developers' plans for regular sequels. As
game technology has become more complex, it has also become harder to
distribute development tools to the public.
Modding has a different connotation on consoles which are typically
restricted much more heavily. As publicly released development tools
are rare, console mods usually refer to hardware alterations designed
to remove restrictions.
Although the PC platform is almost completely decentralized at a
hardware level, there are two dominant software forces: the Microsoft
Windows operating system and the Steam distribution service.
Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on
November 20, 1985 as an add-on to
DOS in response to the growing
interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Microsoft Windows
came to dominate the world's personal computer market with over 90%
market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced in 1984.
Valve does not release any sales figures on its Steam service, instead
it only provides the data to companies with games on Steam,
which they cannot release without permission due to signing a
non-disclosure agreement with Valve. However, Stardock, the
previous owner of competing platform Impulse, estimated that, as of
2009, Steam had a 70% share of the digital distribution market for
video games. In early 2011,
Forbes reported that Steam sales
constituted 50–70% of the $4 billion market for downloaded PC games
and that Steam offered game producers gross margins of 70% of purchase
price, compared with 30% at retail. In 2011, Steam served over 780
petabytes of information, double what it had delivered in 2010.
Digital distribution services
Digital distribution in video games
PC games are sold predominantly through the Internet, with buyers
downloading their new purchase directly to their computer. This
approach allows smaller independent developers to compete with large
publisher-backed games and avoids the speed and capacity limits
of the optical discs which most other gaming platforms rely
Valve Corporation released the Steam platform for Windows computers in
2004 as a means to distribute Valve-developed video games such as
Half-Life 2. It would later see release on the
Mac OS X operating
system in 2010 and was released on Linux in 2012 as well. By 2011, it
controlled 70% of the market for downloadable PC games, with a
userbase of about 40 million accounts. Origin, a new version
Electronic Arts online store, was released in 2011 in order to
compete with Steam and other digital distribution platforms on the
PC. The period between 2004 and now saw the rise of many digital
distribution services on PC, such as Amazon Digital Services,
GameStop, GFWL, EA Store, Direct2Drive, GOG.com, and GamersGate.
Digital distribution also slashes the cost of circulation, eliminates
stock shortages, allows games to be released worldwide at no
additional cost, and allows niche audiences to be reached with
ease. However, most digital distribution systems create ownership
and customer rights issues by storing access rights on
distributor-owned computers. Games confer with these computers over
Internet before launching. This raises the prospect of purchases
being lost if the distributor goes out of business or chooses to lock
the buyer's account, and prevents resale (the ethics of which are a
matter of debate).
PC gaming technology
An exploded view of a modern personal computer:
Primary storage (RAM)
Expansion cards (graphics cards, etc.)
Optical disc drive
Secondary storage (Hard disk)
Main article: Personal computer
See also: Gaming computer
Modern computer games place great demand on the computer's hardware,
often requiring a fast central processing unit (CPU) to function
properly. CPU manufacturers historically relied mainly on increasing
clock rates to improve the performance of their processors, but had
begun to move steadily towards multi-core CPUs by 2005. These
processors allow the computer to simultaneously process multiple
tasks, called threads, allowing the use of more complex graphics,
artificial intelligence and in-game physics.
Similarly, 3D games often rely on a powerful graphics processing unit
(GPU), which accelerates the process of drawing complex scenes in
realtime. GPUs may be an integrated part of the computer's
motherboard, the most common solution in laptops, or come packaged
with a discrete graphics card with a supply of dedicated Video RAM,
connected to the motherboard through either an AGP or PCI-Express
port. It is also possible to use multiple GPUs in a single computer,
using technologies such as NVidia's
Scalable Link Interface
Scalable Link Interface and ATI's
Sound cards are also available to provide improved audio in computer
games. These cards provide improved 3D audio and provide audio
enhancement that is generally not available with integrated
alternatives, at the cost of marginally lower overall performance.
SoundBlaster line was for many years the de facto
standard for sound cards, although its popularity dwindled as PC audio
became a commodity on modern motherboards.
Physics processing units (PPUs), such as the
AGEIA PhysX) card, are also available to accelerate physics
simulations in modern computer games. PPUs allow the computer to
process more complex interactions among objects than is achievable
using only the CPU, potentially allowing players a much greater degree
of control over the world in games designed to use the card.
Virtually all personal computers use a keyboard and mouse for user
input. Other common gaming peripherals are a headset for faster
communication in online games, joysticks for flight simulators,
steering wheels for driving games and gamepads for console-style
Computer games also rely on third-party software such as an operating
system (OS), device drivers, libraries and more to run. Today, the
vast majority of computer games are designed to run on the Microsoft
Windows family of operating systems. Whereas earlier games written for
DOS would include code to communicate directly with hardware, today
application programming interfaces (APIs) provide an interface between
the game and the OS, simplifying game design. Microsoft's
an API that is widely used by today's computer games to communicate
with sound and graphics hardware.
OpenGL is a cross-platform API for
graphics rendering that is also used. The version of the graphics
card's driver installed can often affect game performance and
gameplay. In late 2013, AMD announced Mantle, a low-level API for
certain models of AMD graphics cards, allowing for greater performance
compared to software-level APIs such as DirectX, as well as
simplifying porting to and from the
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
consoles, which are both built upon AMD hardware. It is not
unusual for a game company to use a third-party game engine, or
third-party libraries for a game's AI or physics.
Main article: Multiplayer computer game
Local area network
Local area network gaming
See also: LAN party
Multiplayer gaming was largely limited to local area networks (LANs)
before cost-effective broadband
Internet access became available, due
to their typically higher bandwidth and lower latency than the dial-up
services of the time. These advantages allowed more players to join
any given computer game, but have persisted today because of the
higher latency of most
Internet connections and the costs associated
with broadband Internet.
LAN gaming typically requires two or more personal computers, a router
and sufficient networking cables to connect every computer on the
network. Additionally, each computer must have its own copy (or spawn
copy) of the game in order to play. Optionally, any LAN may include an
external connection to the Internet.
Main article: Online game
Online multiplayer games have achieved popularity largely as a result
of increasing broadband adoption among consumers. Affordable
Internet connections allow large numbers of players to
play together, and thus have found particular use in massively
multiplayer online role-playing games, Tanarus and persistent online
games such as World War II Online.
Although it is possible to participate in online computer games using
dial-up modems, broadband
Internet connections are generally
considered necessary in order to reduce the latency between players
(commonly known as "lag"). Such connections require a
broadband-compatible modem connected to the personal computer through
a network interface card (generally integrated onto the computer's
motherboard), optionally separated by a router. Online games require a
virtual environment, generally called a "game server". These virtual
servers inter-connect gamers, allowing real time, and often fast-paced
action. To meet this subsequent need, Game Server Providers (GSP) have
become increasingly more popular over the last half decade. While not
required for all gamers, these servers provide a unique "home", fully
customizable (such as additional modifications, settings,
etc.) – giving the end gamers the experience they desire. Today
there are over 510,000 game servers hosted in North America alone.
Main article: Emulator
Emulation software, used to run software without the original
hardware, are popular for their ability to play legacy video games
without the platform for which they were designed. The operating
system emulators include DOSBox, a
DOS emulator which allows playing
games developed originally for this operating system and thus not
compatible with a modern-day OS. Console emulators such as Nestopia
MAME are relatively commonplace, although the complexity of modern
consoles such as the Xbox or
PlayStation makes them far more difficult
to emulate, even for the original manufacturers. The most
technically advanced consoles that can currently be successfully
emulated for commercial games on PC are the
PlayStation 2 using PCSX2,
Nintendo Wii U using the
Cemu emulator. A
emulator named RPCS3 is currently in the works, although it can
currently only run small Homebrew games and certain old arcade titles
that were originally ported to the PS3 from older platforms.
Most emulation software mimics a particular hardware architecture,
often to an extremely high degree of accuracy. This is particularly
the case with classic home computers such as the Commodore 64, whose
software often depends on highly sophisticated low-level programming
tricks invented by game programmers and the demoscene.
Video game controversy
PC games have long been a source of controversy, largely due to the
violence that has become commonly associated with video games in
general. The debate surrounds the influence of objectionable content
on the social development of minors, with organizations such as the
American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association concluding that video game violence
increases children's aggression, a concern that prompted a further
investigation by the
Centers for Disease Control
Centers for Disease Control in September
2006. Industry groups have responded by noting the responsibility
of parents in governing their children's activities, while attempts in
the United States to control the sale of objectionable games have
generally been found unconstitutional.
Video game addiction is another cultural aspect of gaming to draw
criticism as it can have a negative influence on health and on social
relations. The problem of addiction and its health risks seems to have
grown with the rise of massively multiplayer online role playing games
(MMORPGs). Alongside the social and health problems associated
with computer game addiction have grown similar worries about the
effect of computer games on education.
Computer games museums
Video game § Museums
There are several computer games museums around the world. In 2011 one
opened in Berlin, a computer game museum that documents computer games
from the 1970s until today. The Museum of Art and Digital
Oakland, California also exhibits PC games in its
general collection. The Video Game Museum in Rome is dedicated to the
preservation of videogames, and includes Pss games in its collection.
Computer History Museum
Computer History Museum in
Mountain View, California
Mountain View, California holds a
collection of PC games, and allows visitors to play Spacewar!, the
first computer game, on a restored original PDP_1.
Video games portal
Handheld video game
List of PC games
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Computer game museum in Berlin
Video game genres (List)
Beat 'em up
Hack and slash
Shoot 'em up
Grand Theft Auto clone
Escape the room
Point n' click
Construction and management
Multiplayer online battle arena
Multiplayer video game
Nonviolent video game
Multiplayer online game
Social network game